The Texas Folklore Society, 1971-2000
The Texas Folklore Society, 1971-2000: Volume III is now available
as a free e-book at the UNT Digital Library and The Portal to Texas
The three volumes of the Texas Folklore Society’s history were the
result of Jack Duncan and John West requesting that all the Society’s
programs be published in a volume. They wanted to know what folklore
topics members had been interested in and talking about since the first
TFS gathering in 1909. Abernethy set the TFS secretary to typing up all
past TFS meeting programs and contents of Society publications.
Abernethy gathered information about the Society and soon had enough
material to make a good entry for each year. Then Abernethy read
Leonidas Payne’s description of the seminal meeting between Payne and
John Lomax, which was so vivid that Abernethy was caught up in the
social history of the times. These were the settings in which the
meetings that Duncan and West were interested in took place. Abernethy
also collected pictures and early illustrations to augment the writing.
Thus the project turned into three volumes, with Volume I covering
the years 1909-1943 and Volume II 1943-1971.
In 1999 the Society looked back on its ninety years and saw that it was
still strong. It has met annually since 1909, except when interrupted by
wartime. It has collected, presented, and preserved more folklore than
any other similar society in the United States. It has amassed a list of
publications in Texas folklore that compare favorably with collections
throughout the United States. It has brought to Texas and sent out from
Texas some of the leading folklorists of the nation. And large numbers
of the Society’s members continue to gather annually to honor and enjoy
the traditions of Texas.
The final volume begins with the move from Wilson Hudson’s editorship at
the University of Texas to F. E. Abernethy’s editorship at Stephen F.
Austin State University: “We moved during the burnt-out end of August,
Wilson and I… We sweated and cussed some as we packed the Society’s
materials in cardboard boxes and carried them out to the station wagon
parked behind Parlin Hall. We took down the pictures of Lomax and Payne
and Thompson and some Cisneros sketches… Frank Dobie’s old felt hat
with a turkey feather in the band was sitting on a filing cabinet, so we
put it in. Very gently we loaded a box of Mody’s paisanos, five or six
of them… And the Society’s publications… that stretched back to
Stith Thompson’s Volume I in 1916 and make up our umbilicus, the visible
chain of the Society’s being, that makes us all a part of it from its
inception in 1909.”